Why It Pays To Buy Beer At Whole Foods

For some beer drinkers, picking up a case of their favorite brew isn't as simple as stopping by a chain supermarket. Rather, more and more Americans are turning to craft beers from local breweries, with sales of craft beer in the nation increasing by 8% in 2021 (as compared to a 1% increase for regular beer sales). However, not all us are in close proximity to an excellent local brewhouse. So, where can you find beer from smaller breweries without having to go to the brewery itself? The answer might be Whole Foods.

Interestingly enough, Whole Foods has proven itself invaluable for craft beer lovers across the country. You may know that this upscale grocery chain carries products from local brands, depending on where a store is located, but you might've been sleeping on the fact that their local connections extend to beer breweries and distributors. 

Depending on where you live, your Whole Foods might stock brands like Other Half Brewing, Sip of Sunshine, or Singlecut in their display of craft beers and IPAs. You can purchase single bottles and try a number of different beers made locally, without having to visit each brewery or take a gamble on buying a full case. These perks both save you money and allow you to try a much more diverse range of beers, compared to the bigger, nationally-available brands found at any old supermarket.

Whole Foods offers a whole new world of beers

Whole Foods is an excellent place to find a new favorite beer. If you're tired of the tried-and-true Budweiser and Guinness, or perhaps you're looking to bring variety to a party, you'll likely find something fresh and exciting at your nearest location.

On a similar note, because Whole Foods is connected to numerous distributors, the store may also be able to get its hands on smaller labels that might not otherwise be available in your region. Living in California, but looking to try Vermont's Sip of Sunshine? Whole Foods might just have you covered. Looking for something Belgian-inspired but local? Again, check Whole Foods.

The one reservation some shoppers might have is that Whole Foods is a bit notorious for being pricey. While you should be cognizant of a small price increase at your local Whole Foods, general consensus says that the prices aren't that much higher than you would find at an actual brewery, and the grocery chain certainly beats the prices of liquor stores that are known for markups. All in all, Whole Foods' beer selection is probably worth a look — you might find yourself willing to pay an extra dollar or so for a bottle that's unique and reflects your local beer scene.

The one downside to buying beer at Whole Foods

Despite all the perks of buying craft beer at Whole Foods, there's one downside – we're talking about the freshness of the beer, which is determined by popularity and how often the store restocks. A less well-known beer from an Iowa brewery, for instance, might not sell much in Florida, so the turnover of the product on store shelves is much less frequent. As a result, what you see at your local store could be months old, and even if the beer's expiration date is still a ways off, the taste might not be ideal. 

This is a problem you normally wouldn't run into if you went straight to a brewery, but there are ways to circumvent the pitfall. A good rule of thumb is to purchase familiar, local brands (as they're likely restocked more frequently), though large, international brands are also a fairly safe bet. If you've never heard of a particular beer and it seems like everyone is passing it by in favor of other brands, you should probably follow suit. There's no sense in wasting time and money on a beer guaranteed to be old and off-tasting.